Jesus God, I'm in agony. AGONY, I tell you. Right now I have to type with one hand because I'm using the other to claw at my face like a cheesy Hollywood hippy on a bad acid trip, which is ironic because I really think my problem here is the absence of adequate narcotics. I was afraid this would happen, so I made sure to tell the dentist, "Please be so kind to prescribe me powerful painkillers. Please." But since I had four foreign fists in my mouth at the time, it came out, "Gug! Eee gug! AAAAHHHH!"
And evidently I wasn't her easiest patient of the day, because she told me the next time I need a tooth extracted I should consider complete anesthetization. In fact, she could stop everything right now and reschedule me for just that; I could come back in a week or so and they could knock me out and I could lay there quiet as a cadaver as they jackhammered my jaw and dig out a lower molar that's been there since I was 5.
But, you know, there I was already, and she had already shot me up with enough Novocain to keep me talking like a total stroke victim for the day, and I had already put this off for so long that my regular dentist, who doesn't do tooth extractions this complicated, finally got fed up with me and said, "All right! It's your bad tooth; it's fine with me if you want to ignore it until it rots the entire right side of your face off." So I finally called the number he gave me, and finally there I was in the office of the tooth-pulling specialist and dammit, JUST GIMME SOME GAS AND GET IT OVER WITH!
So here I am afterward looking like I've been beaten with a lead pipe and leaving hit-and-run messages on Daniel's and Grant's answering machines: "You wouldn't believe the gap it left! It makes me feel all empty inside! Gug! Eee Gug! AAAAHHHH!" I didn't leave any messages on Lary's machine because, stupendously, he actually picked up the phone. "What? You want me to talk you through this?" he says.
"Fuck talk," I shriek. "I need narcotics! The painkillers they prescribed me pack all the power of Tic Tacs! How can they send me home with a whole part of my jaw gone and not back me up with adequate drugs? I took two, should I take more? I mean I feel nothing, NOTHING."
"Uh, you're feeling something, I can tell," he says. "You don't sound like you."
Of course I don't sound like me. I'm a million years old today. I mean, nothing makes you ancient like loosing teeth. Didn't you ever have one of those dreams in which everything's fine at first, like you're at a business meeting or something and then all of a sudden, in the middle of a sentence, your mouth is full of your own loose teeth and you start spitting them out in your hand and you're thinking, "Christ! Here are all my teeth in my hand! How embarrassing!" And then you wake up and you're so happy it wasn't real?
Don't you think there's a reason we have the toothless dreams? I think it's because we're afraid we're missing something, and not just in the obvious sense. Remember how you feel in those dreams? You feel like, "Wait! Wait! Let me finish before my teeth fall out!" And that's how I feel. I'm not finished. I remember I used to have to walk home from class in San Diego down a stone staircase along a small cliffside, and sometimes the sun would be setting and -- God! I swore I'd never write about this because it's just so corny, but here goes -- and the sight was simply so unfathomably beautiful that sometimes I would have to stop and just be staggered for awhile. I actually reached for it once, thinking, "Can't I just clutch that and keep it with me?" Nobody knows better than me how dorky that is, but how else is there to respond when the world is lit up like a Tiffany lamp and you're alone on a stone staircase watching it? I remember thinking, "Just don't go anywhere, OK?"
But of course it goes. Everything goes. I guess it's our job to just be foster-care keepers of it until it's gone. I don't know. Lary says he never wants to be finished; he wants to die in the middle of everything, and in lieu of a traditional burial, I'm supposed to push his corpse out of a helicopter with his cat duct-taped to his chest, and if possible I should aim for a suburban cul-de-sac. I wish I could be more like him, not the helicopter part, but the whole unfinished journey part. Instead, I keep looking for things in particular, like I'm in a hurry or something, like I want to clutch that sunset and trap it like a tropical bird, and it would have been nice to do it with none of my teeth missing.
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